A novice is a prospective member of a religious order. Novices undergo a period of training and probation, called the novitiate, before they are permitted to take ordination. Novices can be children, adolescents, or adults; male or female.

Novices will typically wear the religious habit (traditional garb) of the particular religious community, with some minor modifications to show their rank of a novice.

In Roman Catholicism, the noviciate lasts at minimum one year, in some orders and communities it is two. Novices typically have dormitories in separate areas within a monastery or community and are under the direct supervision of a monk called a novice master, or a nun called a novice mistress. Religious orders are normally single-gender, so boy novices are under the supervision of a male, and girl novices are under the supervision of a female authority figure. The novice master/mistress will act as a teacher, and in the case of novices under the age of majority, also as a guardian in loco parentis.

Novices and spankingEdit

Punishment of a female novice. Illustration by Georges Topfer.

Novices are typically expected to show, and tested on, the required character traits of obedience, submission, humility and discipline. If a novice is found unsuitable, he or she may be expelled from the community. In minor day-to-day cases of indiscipline, disobedience, or disrespect, a novice may be subjected to various forms of penance/penitence and/or punishment.

In past centuries, and in some places up to today, discipline among the novices of religious orders was known to be very strict and included corporal punishment. In Catholic orders, it was typically administered by their novice master.

An example of a spanking novel dedicated to corporal punishment in such a setting is Le Fouet au couvent by Aimé Van Rod.

See alsoEdit


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